4 DAYS FROM $999
4 DAYS FROM $699
Vantage invites you to Transylvania, where the lure of vampire legends awaits in Romania’s fabled central region, home to mountainous scenery, medieval villages, and Bran Castle — Dracula’s legendary manse. You’ll visit Prejmer Fortified Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and check off another UNESCO Site off your list when joining our optional tour to enchanting Sighișoara. Step inside elegant Bucharest, bohemian Brasov, and a forested region of fairytales — now with an extra day added for better pacing in 2019!
Please note that for passengers on the pre- and post-trip extension to enjoy the best pacing and airline routing, two days of base tour features will be listed in the itinerary below as noted (days 3 and 7). For pre-trip passengers, your price includes:
Fly overnight to Bucharest, Romania
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Romania, arriving in Bucharest on Day 2. Upon arrival, we have the remainder of the day to rest up after our journey.
Welcome Briefing and Dinner in Bucharest (or begin your trip earlier with an optional Transylvania extension)
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you at the Bucharest airport and assist with your transfer to your hotel. Settle in, then gather at the hotel for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner. (Or, if you like, begin your trip earlier with our optional Transylvania extension.)
Traveling through Transylvanian history
Our tour of Transylvania begins as we travel through the scenic valleys and humble villages of the last medieval landscape in Europe. On the way, stop for lunch in Sinaia, a royal summer retreat, and visit the fairy-tale Peles Castle. You’ll return to Bucharest in the afternoon. Dinner is included at your hotel.
Explore Bucharest, embark ship in Giurgiu
Explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. You can visit the infamous People’s Palace, the grandiose, sprawling, and never-completed administrative building initiated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Alternatively, take a fascinating tour of Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest’s oldest hotel building, which was built as a way station for caravans and surrounds a large open courtyard.
After lunch in Bucharest, we’ll transfer to Giurgiu, where we'll embark ship and begin our river cruise.
Please note: For travelers who purchased the pre-trip extension to Transylvania, Days 3 and 4 of the base program are equivalent to Days 7 and 3 of the extension, respectively. Travelers will join the Base Program on Day 4 and embark ship in Giurgiu.
Amused in Ruse, plus a cultural glimpse into Veliko Tarnovo
Step ashore for a full-day tour to Veliko Tarnovo, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River. Cultural Connection: While in Veliko Tarnovo, you’ll have lunch with university students. You’ll continue to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi, where you’ll be treated to a heavenly Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Cultural Connections: You’ll be delighted by a Bulgarian children’s dance group, a perennial favorite with Vantage travelers. Later, witness a fascinating icon painting demonstration on board.
Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, and a Balkan-style BBQ party
Watch centuries of history glide by as your European river cruise floats along the beautiful and dramatic gorges known as the Iron Gates of the Danube. This afternoon, you're invited to a special Balkan BBQ lunch on the sun deck (weather permitting). Cultural Connection: Enjoy a presentation by your Cruise Director on "Romania, Bulgaria, and the EU." This evening, you're a guest at the Captain’s Cocktail Party.
Belgrade, and a walking tour of Donji Milanovac village
More beautiful scenery unfolds today as we continue cruising, and pass through two sets of locks. You’ll hear onboard commentary from the bridge explaining the technical process of the locks before arriving in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. You'll also enjoy a walking tour in charming Donji Milanovac, a picturesque village set at a bend in the river. Cultural Connection: Get a feel for rural Serbian life past and present as we visit the Church of St. Nikolas and a local elementary school, where you'll hear a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century that is now widely used throughout the Slavic world.
Inside Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
Cultural Connection: After an informative lecture on modern Serbia, you'll discover the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history has left the city somewhat disheveled — yet you’ll be impressed by bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of the residents. You’ll also visit Kalemegdan Fortress. This afternoon, you may want to take advantage of the optional tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace. If you're up for something a bit more adventurous, speak to your Concierge about where you can rent a canoe or kayak on the river. Tonight, enjoy the Captain's Gala Dinner onboard, followed by local entertainment.
Cultural Connection: Ready to raise your glass? Then, prepare to set off on a festive pub crawl later this afternoon.
Watersport opportunity: Rent a boat or kayak during your free time.
Hello, Croatia: Exploring Vukovar and Osijek
Following a lecture about Croatia’s struggle for independence, you’ll disembark to tour Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port whose history dates back to the 6th century, when Slavic tribes first settled here. Cultural Connection: You’ll also visit the vibrant university city of Osijek, where you’ll meet a Croatian family while enjoying lunch in their home. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Croatia’s independence firsthand. If you’re in Osijek when school is in session, you’ll also visit an elementary school classroom and meet the children, or you’ll attend a guitar concert in a church courtyard. Tonight, enjoy local entertainment on board.
Exploring Pécs, the Basilica of St. Peter, and the Roman Necropolis
From Mohacs, you’ll set out on an excursion to Pécs, where a city tour will feature the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter and the Roman Necropolis — together recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those who enjoy additional walking can also visit the Museum Quarter. Savor lunch in Pécs at a local restaurant. Cultural Connection: Tonight, some folkloric dancers come onboard to entertain us!
Discovering Hungarian traditions and cuisine in Kalocsa
Today, you’ll visit the town of Kalocsa, where you’ll enjoy a city tour that includes workshops on folk painting, folk embroidery, and the making of traditional Hungarian paprika bread, as well as an organ concert. Sample Hungarian specialties during lunch on board. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Cultural Connection: You'll take part in an insightful Folklore Workshop today. Later, you'll depart for the Hungarian capital: Budapest.
Panoramic tour of Budapest, then traverse the city on your own by foot or bike
Begin the day with a panoramic city tour of regal Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll take in the spectacular panoramic views of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion, a magnificent terrace overlooking the Danube. The rest of the day you’re free to explore Budapest at your own pace. Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
Budapest at your own pace: Free day to shop, explore, or take an optional tour to the “living village” of Hollókő
Enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to ride along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street. You can also join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókó, a "living village" of early rural life that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
A scenic journey back in time, into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, takes you to the medieval UNESCO World heritage village of Hollókő. Here life follows the same patterns it did centuries ago — the houses are built in a medieval style with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, and the locals still honor age-hold customs and dress in traditional embroidered clothing on special occasions — such as your arrival! You'll be greeted with singing, dancing, and a snack of Hungarian cheesecake. Then, in small groups, we'll be invited into a home for lunch — a truly wonderful way to meet people of Hungary. Afterwards, you'll take a walking tour through the village's cobbled streets.
Delving into Hungary’s musical heritage — and goulash
Today you'll tour the Hungarian State Opera House, an opulent masterpiece of neo-Renaissance architecture where greats such as composer Gustav Mahler performed. A statue in front of Ferenc (Franz) Liszt reminds you of Hungary’s storied musical heritage. Much of the structure was destroyed by American bombing during World War II, then restored afterwards. Cultural Connection: You'll also sample some amazing cake and coffee at the famed Café Hauer, an atmospheric landmark of Budapest’s legendary coffee culture. Alternatively, you can choose to take our Hungarian Horse Show optional tour, where you'll be given a tour of the Lazar Equestrian Park in addition to a delightful horse show.
Culinary feature: Learn how to make goulash, and then sample this superb regional dish.
Vienna: From the Ringstrasse to the Heurigen
Cultural Connections: During the morning's sailing, attend a German language presentation and an apple strudel baking demonstration on board. Unforgettable Moment: After lunch on board, our ship arrives in Vienna, where you'll have your choice of two tours: either the Museum of Art History or Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the grandest of European castles. Your afternoon is free to explore Vienna, perhaps on a self-guided cycling tour. Your evening is at leisure, or you may join an optional wine tasting tour and dinner at Heurigen Wolff this evening. Cultural Connection: Back on board this evening, warm-up dancers offer more entertainment!
The congenial atmosphere of cozy, family-style wine taverns, known as heurigens, is perfectly complemented by hearty food, lively music — and locally produced vintages, of course. Heurigens traditionally have rustic decor, open courtyards with outdoor seating, and an accordion player playing traditional Viennese songs. You’ll visit an authentic heurigen for dinner, music, and wine! You can look forward to a fun and festive evening!
Musical explorations in Vienna, private evening Kursalon concert
This morning you'll learn about the heritage of Musical Vienna during an onboard lecture. Join a city tour of Vienna including entrance to Liechtenstein Palace. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps you can schedule a visit to a spa in Vienna through our Vantage Concierge Service, or take one of the complimentary bicycles on board the ship for a ride. Unforgettable Moment: This evening, you’ll be treated to a private classical music concert at the Kursalon. Cultural Connection: Return to the ship for dinner, followed by onboard waltz lessons!
Scenic Wachau Valley cruising, wine tasting dinner
Depart Vienna and settle back to enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of our journey. The Cultural Landscape of the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable for its architecture, vineyards, monasteries, and orchards. As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Wine Feature: Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.
Organ concert, pub crawl in picturesque Passau
Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube river. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Cultural Connection: Join a local artist for a lesson on how to capture the local scenery with a brush.
Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along a scenic 10-mile route (moderate level). Click here for details.
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
You’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Roman era. A morning walking tour reveals what many call the most charming town on the Danube River — it's sure to be a highlight of your Europe river cruise. Cultural Connection: Join the chef for another interactive cooking lesson, featuring a local specialty!
Biking Opportunity: Explore Regensburg’s monuments and history, including Walhalla Memorial Hall, during a medium 14-mile route. Click here for details.
Nuremberg, customized for you — experience the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history
This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the delightful Toy Museum. Your afternoon is at leisure. Cultural Connections: Hear a presentation titled "Made in Nurnberg" before dinner. Then, delight to more onboard entertainment: The Bavarian Brass Band!
Altmühl Valley sailing, walking tour of Bamberg, wine tasting dinner
Cultural Connection: While we cruise this morning, attend a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, one of Europe’s greatest engineering feats. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl Valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is also an opportunity to partake in a cooking demonstration today, one of several available on your journey. Wine Feature: Tonight’s delicious dinner onboard includes a pairing of wines with insights on their local production.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Your European river cruise continues to Würzburg. Here, you'll set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture. Alternatively, you may join an optional tour of medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cultural Connection: Later this afternoon, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.”
Biking Opportunity: Explore the scenic banks of the Main River during this medium 17-mile route. Click here for details.
Picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber features winding cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered houses, as well as massive towers and intact city walls around the Old Town where one can take in views over both the city and the Tauber valley. Known for its “eternal Christmas” atmosphere, the town’s various shops sell beautiful, handcrafted Christmas gifts and souvenirs all year round. Come December, the area comes to life with the famous Christmas Market, one of the most romantic markets in Germany. You’ll take a walking tour and pay a visit to the Christmas Museum; plus, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the shops and take in the stunning views.
Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, featuring a BBQ lunch and traditional live music
Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day today will be a delightful half-day tour of a local German village, during which we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft.
Day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg
Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone looming above the downtown and see the castles famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. Afterwards, descend via funicular from the castle to the town center to stroll the pedestrian-only main street and have a traditional German lunch in a local restaurant. Cultural Connection: Transfer back to the ship where dinner and more onboard entertainment awaits. Tonight, it's the 4 Virtuosos.
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
Today we'll arrive in Rudesheim, where you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. You can also embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments.
Wine Feature: Your third choice of tours is a newly added wine tasting walking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages — and have a nifty souvenir glass to take home! Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, which will be followed by onboard entertainment.
Scenic sailing: After returning to the ship for lunch, enjoy some scenic sailing down the Rhine featuring onboard commentary from our Cruise Director. Some highlights include Lorelei, a steep slate rock that sits at the center of local lore and has enamored singers, poets, and viewers for centuries. We’ll also pass a series of castles along the Rhine Gorge, and your Cruise Director will identify them and offer some history!
Cultural Connection: Tonight, attend the Farewell Dinner, followed by more onboard entertainment, featuring a musical theater highlight show.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center, which includes a Kölsch beer tasting.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy this scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
Disembark in Bonn and transfer to the Frankfurt airport for return flight home
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension.
Complete your sweeping European getaway with three more nights in charming Amsterdam. You’ll cruise the UNESCO-listed canals of this creative city, explore Dutch art and history at the Rijksmuseum, and discover the joys of the countryside (windmills, too!) when you join an optional tour to Zaanse Schans & Edam. An orientation walk of Dusseldorf is an added boon — don’t miss this true Dutch treat!
Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.